The Orange Tip

mattcollinsgarden.co.uk

Tag: bulbs

Placing Bulbs

20131007-140741.jpg

That time of year again (always getting to it later than I would like) when the pencil and paper come out and I’m playing with bulb combinations in the picking beds. There’s not a lot to it but do need to take into account flowering times, colour matches, height and succession.
I’ll be placing the order this week and then be planting right up until mid December; beginning with daffs and putting in Tulips last.

Bulbs

Reached that time of year again when, irrespective of the weather, I’m doing nothing but planting bulbs. Our annual order arrived last week, containing over 1,000 tulips and around 4,ooo daffodils, as well as a fair handful of others including Muscari, Alliums, Snowdrops, Iris’ and early flowering gladioli. I’ve had a helping hand for a few days with getting the daffs in earlier than the others, most of which are now planted, thankfully. So from now until December I’ll be pushing on with the tulips – getting them lined out in the picking beds and spreading them round the main borders and pots.

Last year’s rough planting plan for bulbs in the picking beds






The Rising Wilderness

We’re now entering the period which, last year, as a head gardener I found terrifying. The bulbs die back to a yellowish pond-weed green, the safety netting of once-forceful blue forget-me-nots dries to a scraggly grey, and seedlings of all forms blanket every inch of soil. Cow parsley and Alkanet tower over each other competing for sunlight in every shady spot and the lawn is quickly filling up with clumps of plantain and ranunculus. The pots must all be changed over too and I’m completely dependant on whatever has managed to successfully grow on enough in the greenhouse to take up the spaces. It’s a disastrous frenzy. Or at least, that’s how it seemed to me last year.

This year however, I’ve decided to calm down, breathe, and enjoy the beautiful elements I previously passed off as irritants. Replacing worry with  statergy, I’m moving through the garden more sensibly in a slower and more appreciative manner. This began by getting to the pots early and removing the bulbs just at the point of going over, rather than after a month of steady decline. Even if this meant simply getting the lilies in, and getting to the under planting later, it’s most of the job taken care of. I’ve been applying the same principle to the cutting beds; removing bulbs before they look ill and sowing the replacement cut-flower annuals directly. Plants sown last Autumn in the greenhouse that have made it through the winter are only a few in species, but include; cornflowers, oriental poppies, euphorbias, sweet williams, brizas, nigellas, and scabiosas. I’ve lined these out already (ignoring talk of more frost) and slowly the gaps are filling up. The real lift will be when the dahlias are ready to come out. But this won’t be for some time.

For the rest of the borders it’s now a case of steadily going through and pulling up the forget-me-nots, removing spent tulip foliage, weeding out unwanted seedlings and re-homing self-sown plants into more desirable locations. I’ve found that the rogue scabious, Knautia macedonica, is a particularly prolific self-distributor, delivering many new clumps each Spring. The temptation last year was really to leave everything to flower right until the last possible moment which, at such a critical transitional period in the flowering year, was ultimately my mid-season undoing. Although, conversely, it is a good principle for the later Summer flowerers. Half the benefit of plants like the verbenas, sedums and echinops’ is in their formation of architectural and wildlife-encouraging seed heads.

As for the wilder fringes of the garden, my attitude this year has been just to leave it all be. Save for a few paths strimmed in through the mass in order to get in close to the wilderness, it’s much nicer to, for now, simply let nature get on with things and watch as the colours change.

The March Marathon

As is typical for most gardeners, March is much less of an ease into Spring as it is a fraught rush through the last of the Winter bulk jobs. There are wonderful signs all around however, that indicate the season of rebirth and intense colour has begun, and we’re midway through the age old procession of common bulb blooms; from crocuses all the way to alliums. I’ve watched the snowdrops and aconites fade, giving way to anemones, daffodils and Iris’. The tulips are now waving with full heads in the wind and soon there’ll be fritillaries in the woodland glade. Further steps in the succession of Spring bulbs will bring muscari, cammasias and bluebells, and this reliable story told annually through the specific make up of these flowers is unlike any other I can think of in the calendar.

But returning to the tasks at hand, and with an improvised deadline of Easter Sunday, I have still yet to finish the pond and the car park beds. These are both areas of the garden I have not spent a great deal of time working in, and I am determined to have them up to scratch and looking their best by the holiday.  The race continues..

20120318-171905.jpg

20120318-171941.jpg

20120318-172001.jpg

20120318-172021.jpg

20120318-172038.jpg

20120318-172058.jpg

20120318-172119.jpg

20120318-172202.jpg

20120318-172216.jpg

20120318-172239.jpgg muscari, cammasias

20120318-172313.jpg

20120318-172351.jpg

20120318-172409.jpg

20120318-172455.jpg

20120318-172550.jpg

20120318-172613.jpg

Promising Signs

20120309-230405.jpg

A relief to see the tips of the species daffodils, tulips and alliums popping up through the picking beds, right where they should be! It’s always a little unnerving after a late Autumn planting and long Winter’s waiting to see if the bulbs made it through. So many worrying potentials such as squirrels, rot and frost. It’s satisfying when the lines come up roughly straight too..